Grid Rules Home

When you apply for disability, Social Security evaluates your case using a very detailed set of rules. These rules are designed to help Social Security employees, no matter where they are located, evaluate every case in a uniform manner.


Many of Social Security’s rules deal with the evaluation of medical information.  However, Social Security has published some lesser known rules called the “medical-vocational guidelines” that focus less on medical problems and more on your age, education and work background.  Most Social Security lawyers and judges refer to these rules as the “grid rules” because they are set out in a 5 column table.

These grid rules are the focus of this web site and the goal of this site is to help you understand and apply the grid rules – hopefully for the purpose of winning a favorable decision.

The premise of the grid rules is simple: Social Security recognizes that as you get older, you will have a more difficult time finding a job.  Specifically Social Security recognizes that employers are less likely to offer an entry level job to a man or woman aged 50 or older.  The less education you have or the fewer job skills you have, the harder it will be to find employment.

These vocational realities are codified in the grid rules.  The practical effect of the grid rules is to authorize a judge or adjudicator to find you disabled even if you can still do some level or work.

The Grid Rules Only Apply When You
Have Physical Limitations

At the top of this site, you will see buttons labeled “Sedentary,” “Light,” and “Medium.”  These terms refer to your physical capacity for work, and are defined as follows:

Sedentary: Sedentary work means that you are able to sit for up to 6 hours in an 8 hour day, and lift up to 10 lbs. occasionally during a day

Light: Light work means that you can stand and walk for up to 6 hours in an 8 hour day, lift 10 lbs. frequently and 20 lbs. occasionally

Medium: Medium work means that you can stand and walk for up to 6 hours in an 8 hour day, lift 25 lbs. frequently and 50 lbs. occasionally

You can only use the grid rules if you have a physical limitation.  Purely mental health problems or a pain diagnosis without lifting and standing restrictions will not allow you to use the grids.

Examples of cases that considered the grid rules are available for your review on this site.

If your doctor has given you specific lifting and standing restrictions or if you have a sense of where you fall on this scale, you can click the appropriate button and find your profile.  If you see the word “disabled” on the right column, you may have a good chance at winning under the grid rules.